Informing Management of Endemic Habitat Specialists: Multiscale Habitat Selection by the Red Hills Salamander

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Rare species with highly specific habitat requirements present challenges for land managers. The primarily fossorial Red Hills salamander (Phaeognathus hubrichti) is endemic to a small area in south-central Alabama and restricted to a unique coastal plain slope and ravine habitat. Both the current distribution and population demography of the species are thought to be influenced by past and current land use. We quantified habitat use and selection of P. hubrichti at 6 scales: 3 of which were designed to identify habitat attributes at the landscape scale, the remaining were designed to identify habitat attributes at the microhabitat scale. We documented habitat selection at all 6 spatial scales. Because the data best explained habitat selection at the smallest spatial scale that we evaluated, we advocate for an approach to P. hubrichti habitat management and restoration that begins at a fine spatial scale but incorporates management goals at multiple and larger scales. The framework we use for quantifying habitat selection of P. hubrichti may be useful for other rare species with narrow ranges and specific habitat requirements.